US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken takes an unannounced trip to Ukraine

While in Kyiv, Blinkin met with senior officials, including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, and visited a children’s hospital.

“President Biden has been clear that we will support the people of Ukraine for as long as possible. I reiterated that message to President Zelensky and his team today in Kyiv, which remains – and will continue to be – the capital of an independent, sovereign nation,” Blinken said in a statement.

His trip comes at a time when Ukraine has launched counter-attacks aimed at retaking the Russian-occupied areas in the south and north-east of the country. It also coincides with the meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, hosted by US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

Austin and Blinken both visited Ukraine in late April. They still represent the highest level of US officials who have traveled to the country since the war began in late February. Many heads of state went to Ukraine to meet with its President Volodymyr Zelensky. US President Joe Biden has not traveled there yet, although the two leaders have spoken by phone in recent weeks.

According to the State Department, Blinken also briefly went to Ukraine when he met at the border with Kuliba in March.

The Biden administration has pledged continued support to Ukraine, and has allocated more than $13 billion in security assistance since the conflict began. Austin announced a new $675 million tranche on Thursday. In addition, Blinken announced Thursday that the United States intends to provide more than $2 billion to enhance the security of Ukraine and 18 other regional countries.

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During his trip on Thursday, Blinken, accompanied by US Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink, visited the National Children’s Specialty Hospital Umtdtit in Kyiv and met children who were being treated there – including some of those wounded in the war. He also met Patron, a mine-sniffing dog who gained international fame.

Blinken introduced the Jack Russell terrier with dog treats, quipped that “since he’s already won a number of medals and awards, I thought he’d actually prefer something more usable.” He snapped photos in the hallway with the sweater-clad pup, who accompanied him as he toured the hospital.

“We have a long history of working on demining,” Blinken said. “We are honored to work with you on that.”

The top US diplomat met several children receiving treatment in the hospital, including 6-year-old Marina, who lost part of her leg and has been in hospital since May after being injured in Kherson, and 13-year-old Katrina. He was wounded in an attack on the Kramatorsk railway station in early April and his mother was killed.

“We admire the courage and spirit of your children,” Blinken told the Chamber. “It sends a very strong message around the world.” “And it is an honor to meet you, to meet them, and to see the wonderful work of the doctors, the Minister, and the home of Ronald MacDonald, everyone. We are just glad to be able to help and to be a friend and partner.”

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Kylie Atwood contributed to this report.

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